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I'm Still Standing: The Best of 2010

Our amazing kids, December 2010, from left to right: Hope, Tess, Anne, Christian, Daniel, and James

2010 was the toughest year of my life.  It was a great one, too; highlights include our trip to London in August and the realization of my birthday goal in November.*  But a lot of last year was a struggle. 

I can’t complain; I have my health, my family, my faith, excellent friends, and so many comforts and privileges.  And I made it through!  The year didn’t kill me, so it must have made me stronger, right?

I didn’t experience as much media last year as I usually do, but here’s what I enjoyed the most.

Best Movies I Saw

1. True Grit

2. Inception

3. Robin Hood

4. Toy Story 3

5. Harry Potter 7.1

Best Songs I Downloaded

1. “Closer to the Sun,” by Slightly Stoopid

2. “Harlem River Blues,” by Justin Townes Earle

3. “Rise Like Smoke,” by Cypress Hill

4. “Tennessee Me,” by The Secret Sisters

5. “You! Me! Dancing!” by Los Campesinos!

Best Books I Read (or Re-read)

1. Hold On To Your Kids, by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Maté

2. The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield

3. A Course in Weight Loss, by Marianne Williamson

4. The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls

5. Misery, by Stephen King

6. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, by Anne Brontë

7. The Cabinet of Wonders, by Marie Rutkowski

8. Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall

9. In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, by Gabor Maté

10. Mr. Monster, by Dan Wells

It was the year of non-fiction!  I've never had more than half of my top ten list be non-fiction before.  The top three rank right under the level of scripture for me, though, and I refer back to them often.  Highly recommended.

Yarn of the Year: Sunflower Yarns Franconia in the May Flowers colorway

I knit more than ever last year (knitting is an excellent stress-reliever for me), and I hope to build on that momentum.  Sunflower Yarns beat out other excellent contenders for YotY, including The Sanguine Gryphon and Fiber Optic.  Yarns I look foward to using this year include those by madelinetosh, Three Irish Girls, and Wollmeise

Best Meals I Ate

1.     Winvian, Morris, Connecticut

2.     Charingworth Manor, Chipping Campden, England

3.     db Bistro Moderne, New York, New York

4.     Byron Burger, London, England

5.     Robert, New York, New York

6.     Picnic lunch, Hampton Court Palace, England

7.     Livebait, London, England

8.     Blue, Liverpool, England

9.     Picnic lunch, Arundel Castle, England

10.   Memphis Mae’s, Croton-on-Hudson, New York

Yes, Virginia, there is great food to be had in England.  It's one reason I'd go back in a heartbeat.

* My birthday goal: I decided back in May that I wanted to run 4.4 miles in 44 minutes on my 44th birthday, which was November 4th.  I was copying my dear friend Shauna, who had done the same on her birthday. 

There was only one obstacle in my path: I wasn’t a runner.  I hated to run.  I had never run even a mile without stopping.  Not.  Ever.  Why I would choose such a goal boggles my mind even now.

My homegal Anne (remember Brillig?) told me about the Couch-to-5K program, and she and our bosom buddy Jana and I signed up and got going.  It’s a great program; you start very small and build on tiny, incremental successes over the course of nine weeks.  On July 19th, I ran 5K without stopping to walk once.

After that, my awesome sister Angie, who is a veteran marathoner and the fittest person I know, made me a training schedule.  I stuck to it religiously; I believe that from May to November (not counting our time in England in August), I only missed one running session.

To do so, I had to make room in my life.  I got up at 5:15 a.m.  I made the kids’ lunches the night before each school day.  I made sure I was in bed by 10:00 every night.   I faithfully took my vitamins and supplements.  And I made new running music mixes often—the music got me through some very tough moments, I can tell you.

Right up until my birthday, I didn’t know whether I’d be able to attain my goal.  I prayed; I visualized; I told all of my friends what I was doing so that I could marshal sheer pride if all else failed. 

And I made it.  Afterward, I laughed and cried and felt a little like throwing up; I still can’t believe I did it.  Even more incredibly, over the course of my training, I learned to hate running less (and now that I’ve switched to running in these, I actually like running).  The side benefit?  I lost 20 pounds.  Apparently, burning 500-800 calories several times a week for six months will do that to you.

I’m still running, alternating it with rowing on my Concept 2 rower, which I've loved for years.  I don’t know whether I’ll ever take running to “the next level”; at this point in my life, I just don’t have the time. 

This last part may sound like a cliché, but clichés exist for a reason.  I learned that, with planning, consistency, the support of good friends, and a fair amount of grit, I can do things that I would have thought were impossible.  And gaining the gift of that knowledge during the hardest year of my life came in very, very handy.

2011? Bring it on!

Reader Comments (10)

Fantastic list, as always. I am so inspired by your running journey. I've never been a runner either, and though I don't really WANT to be a runner, it really gets under my skin when I feel like I CAN'T do something. I've been toying with a program similar to the Couch to 5K one that you mentioned, but I want you to know how your perseverance gives me strength and motivation. You amaze me.

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJenna Consolo

Chooses to be inspired by you. And to put all of the books up there on her list of things to read--except perhaps the Stephen King--not so much my genre.

You? Are awesome!

I should make a list like this.

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEowyn

Not cliched at all, sweet friend. Just simple, unabashed truth. We all need a little of that in our lives, I think. Like your running playlists, it pulls us through the hard times.

I can't wait to see what 2011 brings for you!

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKimberly

I always look forward to your "best of" lists.

Great list as always. Sad that '10 was so hard. Here's to '11 being much better.

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnnette

Wow, Luisa, I had NO idea about the running! We need to be in better touch. Congratulations! And what a year. Also, I have the Marianne Williamson book but ended up putting it aside for a bit for a variety of reasons, but now, seeing it on your list, I'm inspired again. My weightloss "drugs" of choice are dancing and yoga.

I may want to tap your brain about England, too - we're headed there in April! Can't WAIT!

Sending you love and hugs.

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjen

Luisa - what a great post! And a seemingly great year, despite it being your worst. You always amaze and inspire me and I'm so glad I know you. Love the picture of the kids!

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjolet

So why was 2010 so tough for you?

I started a "start to run" program (that's how we call it) last summer but had to stop due to projects and many many overhours. I'll start again though as soon as the days are a bit longer and it's no longer dark when I get home. And then I'll participate in a 4 km run after Christmas through Leuven. I will! :)

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGoofball

You go! That is so awesome, and I'm glad you achieved your goal :) Side note, I got your cookbook for Christmas, and I can't wait to try out some recipes! So excited.

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterpoodlegoose

Yay, you! You're my hero. Hugs!

January 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHeidi Ashworth

Great post! I'm glad that despite 2010 being hard, you were able to focus on so much of the good in your life. I love the picture of the kids, too. What a beautiful family.

XO, Luisa!

January 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

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